Written by Ryan Lippert
After going through last week without a true big-time matchup in the SEC, we have a great one this week! This Saturday night, we will see the #3 Georgia Bulldogs taking on the #7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This game features a Notre Dame team that made the College Football Playoff last year only to get embarrassed by the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers. On the opposite side, you have Georgia who barely missed the playoff last year and is looking to get back in. With that being said, let’s take a deeper look at this week’s SEC Game of the Week between Georgia and Notre Dame.
Georgia Gets Their First True Test
As was expected, the Georgia Bulldogs are very much in the discussion for the College Football Playoff once again this season. They are currently 3-0 and haven’t had a team even come close to competing with them so far. However, we can’t truly judge how good they are just yet as they simply haven’t played against good competition yet. Their first three wins have come against a very mediocre Vanderbilt team, and small conference opponents Murray State and Arkansas State. This week will be a true test for them as they finally face a ranked opponent in Notre Dame.
So far, Georgia has been led by the play of quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm has looked like a true NFL prospect so far this season, throwing for 601 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He will be facing a Notre Dame defense that has been solid against the pass this season, not allowing a single passing touchdown through two games.
I think the key to this game for Georgia is going to be running back D’Andre Swift. He has 290 rushing yards for just two touchdowns so far but he has tremendous big play ability. Running backs Zamir White and Brian Herrien have been able to take some of the workload off him but Swift must be the main guy in this game. If they can get him going, this Notre Dame defense could be in trouble.
Is Notre Dame the Real Deal?
After making the College Football Playoff last season, Notre Dame seems to be going down the right path to start this season. They are currently 2-0 but like Georgia, it is hard to judge them based on their competition. Although they beat Louisville in Week 1 35-17, I thought they looked shaky at times. Based on pure talent, that game was way too close in my opinion. They followed that with a 66-14 win in Week 3 over New Mexico after a bye week. Again, it’s New Mexico so that isn’t really much to hang your hat on. Traveling to Georgia will easily be their toughest game of the year and if they come out with a win, they should be very much in the playoff discussion.
The success of Notre Dame, not only in this game but throughout the whole season, will lie in the hands of quarterback Ian Book. After receiving some praise going into the season, Book has looked solid so far, throwing for 553 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions. He has also shown that he is a threat as a runner, rushing for 127 yards (tied for the team lead) and two touchdowns. Book has benefited tremendously from a player who is turning into a star at wide receiver in Chase Claypool. Claypool has nine receptions for 190 yards and a touchdown through two games this season. They will be facing a very good Georgia defense who has only allowed one touchdown so far this season. If Book and Claypool can’t find a way to get their connection going, it could be a very long day for Notre Dame.
This game is drawn up to be a very good one on Saturday night. Both of these teams are getting their first big test of the season and know that their College Football Playoff hopes are likely on the line. I believe this game will be close for about three quarters. However, I think Georgia will simply be too much for the Fighting Irish in this one. I see the Bulldogs pulling away late to win this one 31-17.